Hostile Environment Training and Awareness

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An increasingly unstable socio-political environment means people from all walks of life increasingly must prepare themselves for hostile environments.

The world is becoming more hostile and dangerous, seemingly by the week. With conflicts raging across the world, Hostile Environment Awareness Training has become more important than ever before.

When you’ll need it

First, who is using it? With every new conflict groups of people will be drawn to the region. It could be NGOs, charities, aid workers or journalists looking to cover the conflict. Each of these people will face a variety of dangers whether it’s becoming the target of terrorism, getting embroiled in a battle or passing through dangerous territories. 

Training can vary depending on the type of mission and where you will be going, but typical courses will cover some, or all, of the following:

· Risk assessments and situational Awareness.

· Personal Safety.

· Awareness of mines and booby traps.

· Navigation, GPS and using a Compass.

· Medical and first aid training.

· Negotiating checkpoints.

· How to work in a rioting crowd.

· Kidnap avoidance and what to do if you are taken.

· Weapons and ballistics.

· Basic vehicle maintenance.

Trainees can also benefit from information about dealing with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although widely recognised amongst servicemen returning from war, it is also an issue for journalists and aid workers. They may not have been directly involved in the fighting but will have been exposed to the horrors of an overseas conflict nonetheless.

Reports suggest that posttraumatic stress affects 30% of aid workers when they return home, and many of them do not receive the support they require[i]. Even journalists – so long considered to be as cynical and hard bitten as they come – can suffer. Many don’t reach out through fear of being labelled while others don’t even know the problem exists[ii].

The value, therefore, of hostile Environment Awareness Training, is that it cannot only prepare you before you enter a dangerous situation but it can also help you deal with the inevitable fallout after the event. Support services and therapy can help after a return, but it can be crucially important to be prepared before embarking on the mission. It helps you to know what to expect and leaves you better equipped to deal with whatever comes your way.

Awareness of the issues is growing, which is why charity and media organisations are increasingly sending their staff on hostile environment awareness training days. For some it’s a question of compliance with insurance policies; for others, it’s simply a question of maintaining the welfare of their employees. Either way the market is growing and as the world becomes more unstable organisations are switching their attention from overseas to back home. Corporate employees who might be the targets of blackmail or armed robbery are also receiving training, while security services who might be targeted by domestic terrorists can also benefit.

In an uncertain world, the risks are multiplying. And while everyone should hope for the best, it sometimes pays to expect the worst.

 [i] Aid Workers suffer from PTSD: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/mar/03/post-traumantic-stress-disorder-aid-workers

[ii] The Wire: Suffering in Silence: https://thewire.in/43639/suffering-in-silence-journalists-and-mental-health/


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